The Marlins are in an enviable position with star J.T. Realmuto. Because of the dearth of quality catchers across Major League Baseball, there are at least a half-dozen teams who have both the need and prospect capital to battle in serious trade negotiations. On the other hand, the Fish have minimal financial commitments beyond the 2019 season and expect a windfall of revenue beginning in the 2020s when a new local television deal kicks in. They can meet Realmuto’s asking price on a long-term extension (though for the time being, the two sides seem far apart).
It’s impossible to screw up this situation! Well, almost impossible:
This is the fake trade proposal you expect from the most casual fan who only recognizes established players, right before that fan blacks out in a New York City bar. Maybe that fan happens to be a producer at MLB Network? Otherwise, it’s hard to fathom why they wasted nearly four minutes of our time with such a shallow, one-sided discussion.
First of all, let’s note that the Yankees front office would be almost as likely as the Marlins to reject the trade. At this time a year ago, Gary Sánchez was widely considered to be a better asset than Realmuto due to his extraordinary offensive gifts, not to mention younger, cheaper and more controllable.
Sánchez’s value cratered in 2018 thanks to a .186/.291/.406 slash line (89 wRC+), several months spent on the disabled list with a groin injury and heightened concerns about his future as a catcher.
However, there are strong indicators that Sánchez will rebound next season. His .197 batting average on balls in play was the worst in Yankees history (min. 300 PA) despite plenty of hard contact—his 97.7 mph average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives matched Aaron Judge’s near the top of the MLB rankings. That’s plain ol’ bad luck.
Repeating his performance should yield better results for a Yankees team that will be approaching 2019 with a “World Series or bust” mentality.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a worse fit than Sánchez and the Marlins at this point in time. The National League game does not afford them the option to use him as a designated hitter should the defensive miscues persist. His high extra-base hit totals are richly rewarded in arbitration (Sánchez will be eligible in 2020), a less efficient investment than Realmuto’s well-rounded skill set. For a franchise that’s focused on loading up on long-term contributors, he provides just two more controllable years than J.T.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman notes that Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo liked Sánchez as a prospect.
But let’s clear up any confusion: Michael Hill has the loudest voice in the room. One of the few holdovers from the old regime, Hill must still earn his job security, particularly in moments like these. Several of last offseason’s trades were influenced by ownership’s desire to trim payroll, but it’s now up to the president of baseball operations to inch the Marlins closer to major league relevance.
Likely Realmuto suitors including the Astros, Braves, Nationals and Dodgers can offer multi-player packages with All-Star potential and six to seven seasons of control before sniffing free agency. Hill should incite them to bid against one another in a market with few viable alternatives at the position (who won’t come cheaply, either). Fish Stripes already has you covered with several practical proposals.
That’s not to say that the Yankees are entirely out of the picture, but it would take more creativity than a catcher exchange.